Space Week takes Horizon students on aerospace, tech discoveries

MADISON – Space Week at Horizon Elementary School is one of Madison City Schools’ most comprehensive and interesting special events, complete with in-person interaction between students and visiting experts.

“Space Week is like Career Week,” Event Coordinator and Gifted Specialist Elizabeth ‘Beth’ Bero said in a previous interview. Horizon invited parents to discuss their jobs at Redstone Arsenal, NASA, Cummings Research Park and other companies on Sept. 19-23.

For their kickoff event, Luke Bingaman, dad volunteer and NASA employee, brought a moon rock for students to examine. They compared goals between the original Apollo and current Artemis programs. Bingaman said both missions involved returning to the moon and ‘practicing’ for a trip to Mars. (nasa.gov/specials/artemis)

Dr. Naveen Vetcha with NASA brought a solar telescope to campus. He invited students to view sunspots on the sun.

With offices in Cummings Research Park, Blue Origin employees explained the company’s Club for Future Space, an outreach for children. (clubforfuture.org/missions) Students watched a video of a Blue Origin rocket. Currently, their New Shepard rocket takes space visitors up and back down, in flights like the tract for Alan B. Shepard, the first American in space.

American Institute for Aeronautics and Astronautics, Huntsville chapter loaned 3D-printed ‘tiny rockets’ to kindergartners. “The kids loved them. PTA volunteers helped students load Alka Seltzer tablets and water, put on the cap and place it for the ‘launch,’” Bero said.

Fulfilling a tradition, Madison firefighters brought their ladder truck. From the ladder’s top, firefighters dropped ‘payloads’ of water balloons to test the students’ work in re-entry.

“Our goal for Space Week was to support and participate in our community’s involvement in the Artemis mission,” Bero said.

“Many students’ parents are working on the Artemis mission. Almost every person at MSFC was involved, plus many contractors in the community,” Bero said. For statistics about Artemis employees, visit nasa.gov/content/artemis-partners.

Other presenters included Mel Rosse with PTA and Jason Gallaspy.

With a project like Space Week, young students may envision themselves in related careers. “When asked, many students expressed an interest in being astronauts, going to the moon or visiting Mars,” Bero said. “Many said they would like to be engineers.”

“We were supported by Huntsville Area Rocketry Association who brought their small model rockets for a grand finale ‘launch’ event on Sept. 23. We were also supported by many parent volunteers who talked about their jobs or helped run activities for the grade levels,” Bero said.

Bero’s work with Horizon’s Space Week started when her oldest daughter was in kindergarten in 1997. Bero then worked for NASA in Education/Public Outreach. She has coordinated Space Week for 25 years.

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